Making the Most of Life: Chapter 3

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The Drama of LIFE: Maturing & Multiplying

The early Jerusalem church stepped out in response to Jesus’ command
to be His image bearers. As we read in Acts 2:42-47,

• They met to hear and follow the apostles’ teaching
• They shared a common life
• They fellowshiped with each other
• They prayed together and for each other
• They praised God
• They experienced deliverance.

Something else happened: “The Lord added to their number daily
those who were being saved.” As they matured, they multiplied. That is
the real LIFE drama.

Maturity and reproduction are companions in life. Are you ready
for that? Would you like to be? Do you believe it to be the normal
outcome of your personal growth in God’s grace? Listen to what Jesus
said was His desire for us: “This is to my Father ’s glory, that you bear
much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8).

The sign of Christian maturity and discipleship is reproduction. It
would be unnatural for you as a Christian not to be reproducing. In all
honesty, though, many of us don’t do too well in this arena, do we?
There is a reason for that. We don’t expect it and we don’t prepare for
it. Can we change that ? Yes. In a home fellowship, you and fellow
believers are in a position to use your God-given gifts in a God-given
way to realize God-given results. People who may never attend
“church” will come to your home to study the Bible.

Rather than being ready to multiply and reproduce, two contrary
tendencies flourish. First, we close the door to multiplying. We have
fellowship and instruction but make no room for expansion. We
become like a lake with no outlet. The second tendency is to keep
adding to our numbers, but stifling the work of the Holy Spirit. We
“warehouse” people by building larger and larger structures. Believers
are then forced to become spectators rather than players. Most church
activity is centered on servicing the organization and its programs. At
best, the use of spiritual gifts is fractional. In both cases, God’s will is
obstructed; the rattle of death begins to be heard.

God entrusts us with spiritual gifts for only one purpose, to be
given away, on behalf of others for His glory. If that is not taking place,
we need to review what Jesus warned about in Matthew 25. Those who
do not use their talents will suffer loss and their talents will be awarded
to others. So, it is important that the home fellowship fosters the full
use of spiritual gifts by every individual.

What is the Right Number?

In America, so much is made of big numbers that it begins to turn
your stomach. Contrary to that pattern, we speak here of small
numbers. What is the right number for a small group or home
fellowship? Twelve! With good reason, that is an ideal number. Yet,
we should not argue over numbers.

Number twelve is significant in the Bible. Even more important,
Jesus selected twelve disciples to train and teach others. Does that
mean that two or three more, or one or two less is wrong? No. As a
matter of fact when you begin your fellowship with a smaller number–
six or eight–you have room for expansion.

A small number is also des irable because the New Test ament says
the church functions with special interaction. Here are several:

• Everyone exercises their spiritual gift
• Everyone participates in receiving and giving
• Everyone is vulnerable
• Everyone is accountable
• Everyone is growing
• Everyone is maturing.

When a home fellowship grows beyond twelve people, it will
begin to lose some of these Biblical requirements. Eventually, if you
continue adding without multiplying, you will lose the elements that
brought you together. God’s will is for each believer to be in a
fellowship where the spiritual gift He has given can reach the potential
He intended. It leads to maturity.

Getting Ready to Multiply

First, keep in mind that God wants you to reproduce (John 15:8). In
developing, your home fellowship will have a leader or a facilitator and
also a host or hostess. To prepare your home fellowship for
multiplying, have apprentices for each role. In this way, when you
reach the point of reproduction, you will have leadership available to
move into expansion.

Multiply when your facilitators and fellowship are ready. When
you reach about sixteen in your fellowship, start taking steps
immediately to multiply. You may even want to close your group to
new people until you have formed two groups. This process should
take place promptly and naturally. As it does, geography and
relationships will play a role in who goes with each newly formed
group.

If you already have twenty or thirty people in your situation, don’t
be concerned. You can form several home fellowships. After that, you
may want to have an occasional get-together. You can arrange for that
in a home, park, church building, or other location. This will lead to
sharing of teaching resources and eventually, to the appointment of
“regional” elders as in the New Testament. Elders were appointed after
churches were going–not at the beginning (Acts 14:21-23; Titus 1:5-9).

The Drama of LIFE

A home fellowship functioning with the four element s of LIFE
will have characteristics of life in general. There will be spiritual
progress and spiritual problems. Whenever people get together, it’s a
mixture of what each person brings. We all come in need of God’s
grace in our lives and acceptance from God’s people.

Strive to get Biblical principles operat ing. Like the New Test ament
church, continual prayer and reliance on God’s Word form the
foundation which you cannot abandon. Jesus promised His presence
and the power of the Holy Spirit would be with you. As you rely on
that promise, you will see great victories in people’s lives, the healing
of families, mending of broken relationships and restoration in
neighborhoods. That is real drama!

The Apostle Paul wrote something especially for you. “My
purpose is that you may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so
that you may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order
that you may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are
hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colos sians 2:2, 3).
Be prepared and eager to step out when Jesus adds people to your
fellowship. He will lead you in His triumphal proces sion ( II
Corinthians 2:14-16).

The Core Values of a Home Fellowship

To conclude, I would like to leave you with five values that should
describe your home fellowship. These values may overlap the four
essential elements we previously discussed that are necessary for a
healthy home fellowship, Love, Intercession/Instruction, Fellowship
and Expansion.

These principles underline the truth that we are God’s missionary
people. They enabled the early church to overrun the Roman Empire.
We, too, have been placed into families, relationships and into
neighborhoods for purposes designed by God. So when you meet
together and someone asks you to explain yourselves, you can
confidently say that you are:

• A people defined by intimacy with God, with love
• A people who strive to serve others by using God’s gifts
(Ephesians 4:14-17)
• A people who have accepted Jesus’ command to seek and to
save that which is lost (John 17:18; 20:21).